There’s No Such Thing As A Fish

no such thing as a fish

Recently I was introduced to a podcast called ‘No Such Thing As A Fish‘. It’s a show hosted by the QI Elves who present their most interesting facts of the week. It’s an awesome programme with so many amazing and wonderful bits of information.

If you’ve never heard of the show QI before you’ll have no idea what the QI Elves are. QI is a UK TV show hosted by Stephen Fry (a popular and beloved English comedian, actor, writer and presenter) who presents questions that may have funny and/or quite interesting (QI) answers. It’s a brilliant, entertaining and insightful programme that is hard to describe without actually watching it! Anyway the QI Elves are the researchers behind the show who research, produce and write for the show. 

So the podcast ‘No Such Thing As A Fish‘ is a lovely addition to the TV show and it’s really great to hear from some of the Elves themselves. They have a wonderful, never ending list of facts that cover a variety of topics. It’s definitely worth listening to and I think I learn something new from every episode. Aside from the amazing bits of information the show is great to listen to because you can clearly hear that the presenters are having a great time. It’s more than them presenting some facts – it actually feels that you’re listening in to their conversations. They will go off on tangents and make jokes creating an environment that feels more like a evening in the pub with friends than in a office recording a radio podcast.

If this post doesn’t convince you then visit some of the pages from the episodes which provide sources and additional bits of information from the shows content:

– No Such Thing As A Pilot Fish

– No Such Thing As A Kiss

– No Such Thing As The Loch Ness Monster

– No Such Thing As A Doorknob In Vancouver

Cashel Man, A 4,000 Year Old Bog Body

The National Museum of Ireland team excavate Cashel Man. Image taken from the progame's website: here.

The National Museum of Ireland team excavate Cashel Man. Image taken from the programme’s website: here.

I have just finished watching the BBC programme ‘4,000-year-Old Cold Case: the Body in the Bog‘. I have also been interested in the bog bodies ever since reading the poems by Seamus Heaney. I haven’t explored the research around the bodies personally but I will any news article or watch any programme on the subject. 

This programme focuses in on the Cashel Man from County Laois, Ireland and gets forensic pathologists and anthropologists archaeologists and other researchers to investigate the body and the peat. There are also glimpses at other bog bodies, including the famous Tollund Man. It’s a very interesting programme and it may even make me go away and look at some research articles surrounding the subject.

 

I’m Back!

I know I’ve been pretty rubbish over the last month or so with writing, reading interesting articles and generally being around. This is because I’ve been tired and have had quite a bit on, so after a week holiday in beautiful Menorca (you can see some of my pictures on my tumblr or pinterest account) I’m back. I’m going to get back on it and attempt to post more things then I have been recently.

Tomorrow I intend to start properly again, with an interesting article about bats for last month’s ‘Skull of the Month’. I know we’re in a new month but as I’ve been so poor at keeping my blog up to date I wanted to give the bat another chance, plus I had found some interesting articles which I haven’t gotten round to reading yet.

To start with however, I just want to mention a programme I just watched on BBC iplayer: ‘Natural World: 2014-2015’. I haven’t watched any of them before but this one caught my eye because a) it was narrated by the comedian and nature fanatic Bill Bailey and b) the episode was called ‘Nature’s Misfits’. It was a really nice show which just looked at a few different and unique animals. If you watch a lot of nature programmes you will know about a few of these animals, such as the kakapo and the aye-aye, but there were some others as well. It was a really good example of how animals evolved different characteristics to overcome various issues or that nature can produce some very intriguing creatures. It’s a very easy watch and well narrated – definitely worth a watch if you love nature or wildlife documentaries. To view more information about the Natural World series click here.

Professor Richard Fortey – his Recent TV Programme and a Book I Once Read

I have just finished watching the first two episodes of BBC4’s Fossil Wonderlands: Nature’s Hidden Treasures presented by Professor Fortey. What can I say – they were wonderfully presented and interesting programmes presented by a man who has a passion for fossils.

The first episode, entitles ‘Weird Wonders’ examine fossils which are interesting but bizarre and include many marine mammals. Such creatures includes ones with many eyes, filter feeders shaped like tulips and worm like scavengers. Although these fossils may be slightly unusual they have been key to our understanding of the evolution of complex organisms and elements, such as the development of the eye.

The second episode looked at feathered dinosaurs. By examining these fossils an insight into the origins of birds and flight. This included looking at fossils of dinosaurs who were covered in tiny feathers but did not fly and those with wings and feathers for flight. From these individuals various hypothesises of how the origin of flight came about has been tested and examined. There are two current theories which suggests that flight originated either through animals gliding from the trees or by taking a running jump into the area. 

I saw this programme on BBC iplayer and was intrigued by it as it was looking at fossils. As I have an interest in evolution, and therefore fossils, I was fairly interested in it. However, what made me sit down and watch the episodes was that it was presented by Professor Richard Fortey, a palaeontologist with a particular interest in trilobites. I am fairly certain that I would have come across some of his work whilst at university but it was a book that I read which made me see him as a good science communicator.

About year or two ago a received his book ‘Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum‘ as a birthday present. It was this book that really made me want to work at the NHM because of it’s descriptions of behind the scenes at the museum and work that goes on there. I think this book suddenly gave me an aspiration which I hadn’t had before. It made me realise that the museum wasn’t just important for storing specimens but also for research and educating the public. If you’re interested in the book read it’s review from the Telegraph here – hopefully it will convince you to get the book!

I would definitely recommend watching this series and reading the book – especially if ou have an interest in evolution and/or fossils.  

BBC Article – The Narwhal’s Tusk is a Sensitive One

Image taken from BBC article.

Image taken from BBC article.

I was just looking through the various news stories on the BBC and came across this one by Ella Davies. A resent study at Harvard School of Dental Medicine has found that a Narwhal’s tusk is sensitive to temperature and chemical differences to the surrounding environment. This was established when a difference in the heart rate of a Narwhal occured when exposed to these changes.

The Narwhal is a pretty cool and interesting creature. The tusk is usually found on males and actually a front tooth which grows to extrordinary lengths, up to 2.6m (9ft). It has long been suggested that the tusk is a sexual characteristic, as it only usually males who have them. However, this new study suggests a new insight into the Narwhal – although more reserach is needed in the area to establish what is actualy going on. As these animals are rarely sighted very little is known about them in any sense so any new information is extremely important and revealing. The research is now continuing and information from hunters is being gained to attempt to shed more life on these elusive creatures.

Read the full article here.

Ben Garrod’s Secrets of Bones Ep. 3

Yes I am about a week behind in this show but that’s the beauty of catch-up and the BBC iplayer! The third episode of Secrets of Bones focused on the flying and how bones have enabled flying to become a way of locomotion.

The programme starts with explaining the three different times that the wind and flight has evolved; once in the dinosaurs, once in bats and of course also in birds. Although these three groups of animals have evolved to fly they have achieved this in different ways. Each one has a similar structure in the wing bones, that is they all possess a pentadactly limb (see more on this from my post on episode 2). However, they way in which these bones are organised differ providing different methods to achieve flight making this a perfect example of convergent evolution. I don’t I can explain each type of flight clearly enough to make it easily understandable so I highly recommend either watching the show if you haven’t already or to have a look at this site entitled ‘The Three Solutions to Flight‘ from Berkley. It also appears to have been originally  written by John Hutchinson who also appears on the show.

Image Taken from: http://www.inkart.com/pages/science/wings.html

Image of a bird to the human arm, depicting the difference in structure. Image Taken from: http://www.inkart.com/pages/science/wings.html

After discussing the three different types of flight the programme focused on the variation found in birds with regards to their wings, and skeleton. It showed that although the majority of birds fly their bones differ with regard to size and shape. For example the pigeon has a massive keel on it’s breast bone for muscle attachment to enable a vertical lift whilst the albatross have a massive wing-span which has the ability to lock itself, which means the albatross can glide over great distances. 

Image taken from: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/vertebrates/flight/aves.html

A generalized bird wing. Image taken from: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/vertebrates/flight/aves.html

Once some of the flying birds were looked at the focus shifted to flightless birds including the emu and penguin. Ben Garrod showed how again these birds different and how their skeleton had adapted to the different needs. This meant that the emu had strong, light weight bones to assist with running whilst the penguins bones are much denser to act as ballast.

I really enjoyed the episode – it probably wasn’t my favorite; but that’s probably because I am much more interested in mammals. It was delivered in a very competent and clear manner and definitely think osteology courses should look at including this.  

 

Ben Garrod’s Secrets of Bones Ep. 1

Ben Garrod. image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vrtkp

Ben Garrod. image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vrtkp

I’ve just finished watching Ben Garrod on BBC4s Secret of Bones. What can I say it was awesome! I loved that it looked at different animals and their skeleton – comparative anatomy is one of my favourite subjects within the study of the bones. I definitely would recommend this programme to anyone who has an interest in the natural world and it is completely suitable for those with a background knowledge of the skeleton and for those who just have an interest.

Ben Garrod is an evolutionary biologist who has a particular love of bones – he can even put them back together to create displays and educational pieces. He is currently doing a PhD in primate evolution and morphometrics and I wish him the best of luck with it (I’m very jealous!).

I am very much looking forward to the rest of the series not only for its wonderful presentation and information but also because it made me smile. I especially liked the bit about the rhino skeleton – you’ll have to watch the programme to find out about this incredible animal – particularly for the film of it runny, for some reason I’m always reminded of a happy staffy puppy bounding along! Oh and of course it was about bones – so of course I was going to enjoy it!